Skip to main content

Full text of "Virginia Wildlife"

See other formats



MAY 2010 



Bob Duncan 

Executive Director 

Major Mike Clark and 
CPO Dan Hall {r). 

Capt. Ron Henry (I) and 
CPO Greg Funkhouser (c) are 
joined by Director Duncan. 

^^0 Mark VanDyke (r) 
joined by Capt. Henry. 

It was my pleasure during a recent board 
meeting to witness recognition of sev- 
eral conservation police officers (CPOs) 
from among the Department's ranks. CPO 
Dan Hall received the Conservation Police 
Officer of the Year Award, presented by 
Major Mike Clark. Dan and his family make 
their home in Smyth County, where he is 
currently assigned. Dan has served in this 
role since 1988, starting out in Dickenson 
County. He was recognized for his natural 
leadership skills and ability to work effec- 
tively with people from all walks of life. In 
Dan's words, he "always wanted to be a 
game warden," and by the smile on his 
face, I believe him! Dan acknowledged his 
wife, Tanya, who accompanied him to the 
meeting, for all that she's done over the 
years to support his efforts. As anyone in 
law enforcement will tell you, it is a 24/7 
job that demands the support of family and 
your heart and soul to be effective. 

Also recognized at the meeting were 
CPO Brandon Harris and CPO Mark 
VanDyke, each with a Life Saving Award. 
Due to their quick thinking and CPR skills, 

they saved the life of an 8-year-old girl who 
had vanished underwater on Buggs Island 
Lake last summer. Both officers credited 
their behavior to the training they received 
at the agency while becoming a CPO. I con- 
sider them heroes and outstanding exam- 
ples of law enforcement professionals who 
make all of us proud. 

And finally, CPO Greg Funkhouser 
was recognized for his selection as the Na- 
tional Wild Turkey Federation's Officer of 
the Year. Greg was initially selected by the 
Virginia chapter; then at the convention in 
Nashville, he rose to this selection from a 
national field of officers. Congratulations, 
Greg! This national recognition marks the 
third time in the 11 -year history of the fed- 
eration's award that a Virginia officer has 
won. I believe that speaks for itself, and 
you'd be hard pressed to find anyone 
around here who isn't bursting with pride. 

On behalf of the entire agency. I'd like 
to echo our congratulations to and deep 
appreciation for these men and the profes- 
sional manner in which they serve the 

Mission Statement 

To manage Virginia's wildlife and inland fish to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth: 
To provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor recreation and to work diligently to safeguard 
the rights of the people to hunt, fish and harvest game as provided for in the Constitution of Virginia; To promote safety for persons and 
property in connection with boating, hunting and fishing; To provide educational outreach programs and materials that foster an aware- 
ness of and appreciation for Virginia's fish and wildlife resources, their habitats, and hunting, fishing, and boating opportunities. 

Dedicated to the Conservation of Virginia's Wildlife and Natural Resources 



Commonwealth of Virginia 

Bob McDonnell, Governor 



Subsidized this publication 

Secretary of Natural Resources 

Douglas W. Domenech 

Department of Game and 
Inland Fisheries 

Bob Duncan 
Executive Director 

Members of the Board 

Ward Burton, Halifax 
Brent Clarke, Fairfax 
Sherry Smith Crumley, Buchanan 
William T. Greer, Jr, Norfolk 
James W. Hazel, Oakton 
Randy ]. Kozuch, Alexandria 
John W. Montgomery, Jn, Sandston 
Mary Louisa Pollard, Irvington 
Richard E. Railey, Courtland 
F. Scott Reed, Jr., Manakin-Sabot 
Charles S. Yates, Cleveland 

Magazine Staff 

Sally Mills, Editor 

Lee Walker, Ron Messina, Julia Dixon, 

Contributing Editors 
Emily Pels, Art Director 
Carol Kushlak, Production Manager 
Tom Guess, Staff Contributor 


Color separations and printing by 
Progress Printing, Lynchburg, VA. 

Virginia Wiltllife (ISSN 0042 6792) is publishec 
monthly by the Virginia Department of Game anc 
Inland Fisheries. Send all subscription orders anc 
address changes to Virginia Wildlife, P. O. Box 7477 
Red Oak, Iowa 51591-0477. Address all other com- 
munications concerning this publication to Virginii 
Wildlife, P. O. Box 11104, 4010 West Broad Street 
Richmond, Virginia 23230-1104. Subscription rate 
are $12.95 for one year, $23.95 for two years; $4.0( 
per each back issue, subject to availability. Out-of 
country rate is $24.95 for one year and must be paic 
in U.S. funds. No refunds for amounts less thar 
$5.00. To subscribe, call toll-free (800) 710-93691 
POSTMASTER: Please send all address changes tc: 
Virginia Wildlife, PO. Box 7477, Red Oak, low;' 
51591-0477. i'ostage for periodicals paid a 
Richmond, Virginia and additional entry offices. 

Copyright 2010 by the Virginia Department o 
Game and Inland Fisheries. All rights reserved. 

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries shal 
afford to all persons an equal access to Departmen 
programs and facilities without regard to race 
color, religion, national origin, disabilit)', sex, o 
age. If you believe that you fiave been discriminat 
ed against in any program, activity or facilit\ 
please write to: Virginia Department of Game ani 
Inland Fisheries, ATTN: Compliance Officer, (4011 
West Broad Street.) P. O. Box 11104, Richmond 
Virginia 23230-1104. 

"This publication is intended for general informa 
tional purposes only and every effort has '"""■ 
made to ensure its accuracy. The informati 
tained herein does not serve as a legal rep; 
tion of fish and wildlife laws or regulatioi 
Virginia Department of Game and Inland F 
does not assume responsibility for any change 
dates, regulations, or information that may occu 
after publication." 


About the cover: 
The little brown bat (Myotis 
lucifugus) is just one of Virginia's 
cave-dwelling bats that biologists 
are closely monitoring for signs of 
white-nose syndrome. Please 
contact a DGIF office if you find 
a dead or dying bat displaying any 
of the symptoms described in the 
feature on page 20. 
Photo: ©McDonald Wildlife 

Mom's Day Off 

by Beau Beasley 
Take the kids fishing this spring 
and give Mom some quiet time. 

Occoquan National 
Wildlife Refuge 

by GlendaC. Booth 
Visit a place where quiet waters 
and native grasslands meet, in 
the middle of suburbia. 




Magazine 1 

For subscriptions, f 
circulation problems 
and address changes 


12 issues for $12.95 
24 issues for $23.95 


JH u Return to the Roanoke River 

^S W^ by Bruce Ingram 

Running through the heart of the community, 
this river system is flowing with renewed life. 

Fishing From Terra Firma 

by Charlie Petrocci 
You don't need a truck and a fancy boat to enjoy 
the fishing opportunities along the Eastern Shore. 

Dark Days for Virginia's Bats 

by Cristina Santiestevan 
Biologists and conservationists hold their breath, 
as they watch for signs of white-nose syndrome. 

Virginia's Box Turtle Connection 

by Marie Majarov 
To this reptile's long list of endearing qualities, add 
educational asset. 


Off the Leash 
On The Water 
Dining In 
Photo Tips 


:■» ~-> T. 










kV \ 


The month I spent at home 
with my kids after my wife 
broke her wrist and elbow 
was enough to convince me that 
being Mommy ranks among the 
world's toughest jobs. I'm a 25-year 
veteran firefighter and paramedic for 
Fairfax County who works 24-hour 
shifts and has seen more car wrecks, 
cardiac arrests, shootings, stabbings, 
and suicides than I care to recall. 
Now, I love my children. But as I told 
the guys at my station when I re- 
turned to duty after a month of leave, 
I had to come back to work because I 
needed a break. 

Fast forward several years. This 
particular spring day held the prom- 
ise of warmth but was still quite 
chilly — and that's just the way my 
nature girl Maggie likes it. My son 
Jeremiah, by contrast, is like his 
mother: Why be cold outside when 
you can be inside enjoying a warm 
cup of cocoa? Denied the cocoa and 
resigned to the cold, he contented 
himself with a well-sucked thumb. It 
was a great day to break out the fly 
rod and wet a line, but I knew that my 
long-suffering wife desperately 
needed a little peace and quiet. Con- 
sequently, I herded the children into 
the car and left Warrenton, heading 
west toward Syria on Route 29. 

Graves Mountain Lodge in Syria 

hosts a number of family-friendly 

programs over the course of the year; 

it was to one such event that I was 

g, heading with the kids. Each April the 

I Graves family celebrates Heritage 

\ Day at the lodge, a day that recalls a 

I simpler time in our country's history. 


s Day Off 

A covered wagon helps young participants and their families maneuver the 
grounds in comfort on their v^/ay to the river. Left, Maggie proudly displays a 
sunfish, which brother Jeremiah soon mimics (R). 

Heritage Day is the ideal opportuni- 
ty to leave your cell phone at home 
and enjoy the great outdoors togeth- 
er. Families come from across the 
state to revel in the simple pleasures 
of the lodge, including examining 
old farm equipment, meandering 
through a number of interesting ex- 
hibits, and especially, fishing on the 
property both in the Rose River and 
at privately stocked trout ponds. 

Kids rule the roost on Heritage 
Day. If you see an adult holding a 
rod, chances are he's just serving as 
Junior's assistant. I was ready to 
head straight to the water, but my 
children wanted to see the creatures 
first — from chickens to llamas, to cat- 
fish to snakes — many provided by 
the Department. We then enjoyed a 
hayride, ate hot dogs, and picked up 
coloring books. A frontiersman in 

MAY 2010 

period costume had numerous pelts 
(bears, wolves) on display for the 
kids to feel; he encouraged them to 
guess which pelt came from which 
animal and why. Jeremiah tried on a 
coonskin cap, looking for all the 
world exactly like I did nearly 40 
years ago. 

The kids and I enjoyed watching 
the fingers of my friend, Walt Cary, 
fly over his vice as he tied some of his 
famous popping bugs. Well known 
to fly anglers who adore his poppers, 
Walt is a dyed-in-the-wool curmud- 
geon who transforms into an old softy 
when he's around kids. He'd brought 
along a spinning rod, and he offered 
to loan it to me so that I could take the 
kids fishing nearby. I thanked him 
and headed for a likely looking farm 
pond. We got down to the water with 
our trusty gear in hand — and no bait. 

dumps of wild grass. Jemmy, by con- 
trast, captivated by the idea of catch- 
ing a fish, sat happily sucking his 
thumb and alternately discussing 
fishing and fighting dragons. 

Eventually Maggie returned with 
an impressive, grass collection, and 
the three of us sat on a log chatting 
and taking in the beauty of a cool 
spring morning. Indeed, the kids 
considered the day nearly perfect ex- 
cept that it didn't have Mommy in it. 
Suddenly Jemmy brought me out of 
my reverie: "I think I have one. 
Daddy!" he squealed. Sure enough, 
the little bobber had slipped beneath 
the pond's still surface, but I could 
just see it through the clear water as 
our prey hauled it away toward the 

other side of the pond. I deftly set the 
hook and just as quickly returned the 
rod to Jemmy, who struggled to hold 
onto his prize. 

"You can do it Jemmy! You can do 
it!" exclaimed Maggie, cheering on 
her brother and holding fast to the 
clumps of grass in her clenched fists. 

His rod arched over dramatically 
and Jemmy, slayer of dragons, real- 
ized that tJus task would demand his 
all. He put the all-important left 
thumb to work on the rod and held 
on with all his might. Before long a 
healthy bluegill broke the surface of 
the pond, and we celebrated with 
whoops and hugs all around. 

We spent the better part of the af- 
ternoon repeating this cycle of 

Heritage Day is all about kids. With ttie 
Rose River stocked witli trout and the 
ponds jumping with bluegill, it makes a 
great day to give Mom some R&R. 

No problem! Recalling that back in 
my day collecting the bait was at least 
half the fun of fishing, I set Maggie 
and Jeremiah to digging for worms. 
Maggie was keen to turn over rocks, 
and Jeremiah dug at the slippery 
creatures with the tenacity of a hun- 
gry young robin. We had our bait in 
no time. 

I rigged the rod and the kids cast 
our line into the pond's placid wa- 
ters. The fishing was a bit slow at | 
first, and Maggie soon tired of the t 
waiting game and began to gather 3 

events: casting, waiting, catching, 
and congratulating. I watched my 
kids enjoy the day without any toys 
or electronics, and I was struck by a 
powerful sense of nostalgia. In a flash 
I recalled the many times my own 
dear father had taken me and my lit- 
tle brother fishing and how special 
those moments were to me, then and 
now. Both my father and my wife's 
father died long before their grand- 
children were bom. I reflected with 
sadness that my dad would have 
cherished these fishing experiences 
with his grandkids — and I realized 
with joy that his legacy was alive and 
well because he had nurtured in me a 
love for the outdoors that I've begun 
to cultivate in my own children. Both 

of my kids' granddads grasped the 
transcendent importance of invest- 
ing time in their families; that's a les- 
son tliat I hope I've taken to heart. 

After the fish cried "uncle," we 
made our way back to Graves Moun- 
tain Lodge to return Walt's rod and 
indulge in some homemade apple 
pie. We took in a few more sights, pet- 
ted the animal pelts once again, and 
then headed for home. We hadn't 
been on Route 29 for more tlian a few 
minutes when I checked the rearview 
mirror and noted two nodding heads 
in their car seats. 

My wife, looking refreshed and 
relaxed, met us in the driveway when 
we pulled in and began unbuckling 
children and washing dirty hands 

and faces while she listened to them 
recount the day's adventures. 

"I was starting to get worried 
about you all — it's awfully late," she 
said, ushering us in for dinner. "You 
look tired. Beau," she said to me as I 
nodded over my plate. 

"I'm exhausted," I replied. "You 
have no iden how hard it is to keep up 
with those two." 

I thought I caught a brief but 
knowing smile and a twinkle in her 
eye, but I can't be absolutely certain 
of it. D 

Beau Beasley (irumibcaubcaslci/.avu) is theau- 
thor of Fly Fishing Virginia and a career cap- 
tain with Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Dept. 
His next book, Fly Fishing the Mid-Atlantic, 
is scheduled to be released later this year 

MAY 2010 

Lee Walker 



Photo courtesy of Bill Wallen, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). 

A wildlife refuge 

in Prince William 

County delights 

in diversity. 

by GlendaC. Booth 



ere at the Occoquan 
Bay National Wildlife 
Refuge, kids can hold 
and release a songbird and feel the 
pulse of the bird in their hands. It is 
life changing," says U.S. Fish and 
Wildlife Service ranger Marty Mc- 
Clevey. Just 20 miles south of Wash- 
ington, D.C., this rounded nose of 
land in Prince William County at the 

confluence of the Occoquan and Po- 
tomac rivers is a rare natural oasis of 
multiple habitats in densely devel- 
oped suburbia. 

Part of the Potomac River Refuge 
Complex, Occoquan Bay refuge 
(OBNWR) is tucked away just half a 
mile from the busy mishmash of U.S. 
1 — an asphalt ribbon crammed with 
strip malls, car washes, chain stores, 
fast food joints, and gas stations. 
Clogged commuter traffic steadily 
spews up and down the highway, 
and the nearby Virginia Railway Ex- 
press commuter train whizzes by 16 
times daily. On the northeast are the 
1,039-unit Belmont Bay Golf Villa 
Condominiums and a 110-acre golf 

Youngsters in the area are lucky to 
see a tree out the school window or 

spot a starling atop the stoplight, but 
at Occoquan Bay, they can see, touch, 
and feel nature up close. 

A Rich Mix of Habitats 

what brings over 16,000 visitors to 
this refuge every year? 

In a one-square-mile area, there's 
a unique mix of wetlands, forest, na- 
tive grasses, wet meadows, bottom- 
land hardwoods, open freshwater 
marsh, and tidal marshes and 
streams. "The unusual number and 
interspersion of habitats provide a di- 
versity of flora and fauna," touts An- 
nette Baker-Toole, president of the 
Friends of the Potomac River 

"What makes Occoquan unusual 
is the fact that you have a number of 


A "Stepping Stone^^ i^ 

...I A 

different habitats in a relatively small 
area, and as such, you have the asso- 
ciated species. We manage for a di- 
versity of species and habitats," ex- 
plains Refuge Manager Greg Weiler. 

OBNWR has 20 plant communi- 
ties of 700 plant species. A natural 
"centerpiece" is the native grassland, 
one of the largest remaining grass- 
lands in the Chesapeake Bay water- 
shed, dominated by eastern gamma 
grass, a warm season grass. 

Out of 270 bird species found in 
the upper Potomac region, 240 have 
been seen at Occoquan, a sign of the 
importance of small natural areas 
along the river, "little stepping stones 
of habitat that birds seek out," Weiler 

Above, Occoquan Bay refuge seen from the ground and from the air. This 
wildlife oasis sits just 20 miles south of Washington, DC. Photo courtesy of 
Harry Diamond, U.S. Army. 

stresses. OBNWR is a connective link 
to other parts of the Potomac refuge 
complex, ecologically speaking. 

The land and water attract migrat- 
ing songbirds, raptors, and water- 
fowl. "It's phenomenal," says Mc- 
Clevey, "because of species diversi- 
ty." He's counted tens of thousands 
of scaup, black ducks, wood ducks, 
mergansers, redheads, ruddy ducks, 
and canvasbacks, among others. 

Bald eagles thrive on OBNWR's 
shoreline, a habitat fast being gob- 
bled up by development. "Where can 

one go in Woodbridge to see such a 
range of wildlife, including 100 bald 
eagles out on the frozen shoreline in 
mid-winter?" asks Baker-Toole. 

Spring brings the spiraling mating 
flight of woodcocks. Raptor rapture 
is common because the gamma grass 
grain attracts mice and meadow 
voles, ideal raptor prey. 

Surveys show 70 butterfly species; 
31 dragonfly species; 16 damselfly 
species; and a rich offering of insects, 
turtles, frogs, snakes, and other 

MAY 20 1 



A rich mix of wetlands and native grasses draws birds, ducl<s, and meadow critters wliicli, in turn, attract raptors and 
other predators. Photo courtesy of Bill Wallen, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 

Why Go? 

Occoquan Bay refuge has a two-mile 
wildlife drive for cars and bicycles 
and over four miles of hiking trails — 
part of the Department's Virginia 
Birding and Wildlife Trail. Weiler 
hopes for a visitor center some day. 

Around 3,000 Prince William 
County students come annually to 
study watershed concepts. "It is a 
magnificent outdoor classroom for 
children and scientists," says Nicky 
Stanton, past president of the Vir- 
ginia Native Plant Society. 

"Students have an authentic, 
hands-on science experience," says 
Joy Greene, Prince William schools' 
environmental education coordina- 

Jim Waggener, the "prime mover" 
behind the refuge's establishment, 
has led weekly bird surveys for 20 
years. In spring and summer, he adds 
butterfly and dragonfly counts. Dur- 
ing the spring bird migration, volun- 
teer banders collect data and evalu- 

ate populations and trends at the on- 
site banding station. 

In December, FWS conducts a 
manageci deer hunt by lottery and 
DGIF sponsors a "generations hunt" 
and instructional workshop for 
youth. Youngsters are accompanied 
by an adult mentor and learn to hunt 
from elevated stands. "There are still 
too many deer," says McClevey. 

Near the shoreline are five water- 
fowl blind sites and the Potomac of- 
fers sport and commercial fishing. 
FWS holds an annual youth fishing 
day in May, before the deerfly "ex- 

Weiler is proud of his "little 
refuge," explaining, "Biolog)' is at the 
core of what we do." Because of its 
mix of habitats, Occoquan is an ideal 
place for nature exploration, from 
watching a dragonfly flutter on a 
stalk suspended over water, to a fox 
kit scampering across the path, to os- 
preys fishing just offshore. 


"Probably the refuge's greatest chal- 
lenge is pollution of the wetland 
areas," says Waggener. Stormwater 
runoff from nearby hard surfaces, 
upstream pollutants, and unhealthy 
air all bring degradation. The annual 
April shoreline cleanup fills two 
dumpsters with suburban detritus. 

Invasive plants like Japanese 
knotweed, Japanese stiltgrass, garlic 
mustard, and mile-a-minute are com- 
mon. With no biologist and limited 
staff, FWS employees try to control 
trees and plants like Chinese les- 
pedeza in the grasslands. "Our 
biggest concern is basically keeping 
pace," says McClevey. 

The Asian snakehead, dubbed 
"Frankenfish" by some, has made it 
to the far reaches of the tidal marshes. 

Climate change lurks. National 
Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminis- 
tration experts say tliat, without ac- 
tion, the Potomac River could rise by 
two feet by 2050 or, with a surge, by 


four feet. Refuge managers will soon 
receive an analysis of the impact of 
sea level rise on Potomac River prop- 
erties. Because the refuge is low- 
lying, it could see some areas more 
permanently flooded, including the 
perimeter road, for example. 

"Do you just let it happen?" asks 
Weiler. "Are the resources significant 
enough to be worth spending time 
and money to prevent impacts?" Al- 
ready, during major storms, a large 
part of the refuge floods, he points 

The occurrence of some species is 
changing, says Waggener. "Bald ea- 
gles and ospreys are gradually trend- 
ing upward, reflecting their situation 
in the surrounding region, while 
great blue herons show a continuing 
decline. Birds of the woodlands and 
edges, like flycatchers, vireos, chick- 
adees, titmouse, and warblers, are 
generally stable. Grassland-related 
species like red-shouldered hawks, 
kestrels, bobwhites, field and 
grasshopper sparrows, bobolinks 
and meadowlarks show distinct 
downward trends." Some species 
like short-eared owl, loggerhead 
shrike, and Henslow's sparrow are 
no longer reported, laments Waggen- 

On the bright side, Occoquan Bay 
is the first site in Northern Virginia to 
document the bronze copper butter- 
fly, a wet meadow species, and in 
2009 the rare fine-lined emerald was 

As Smith Saw It? 

Occoquan Bay is coming full circle. 
When Captain John Smith disem- 
barked here in 1608, he found a large- 
ly undisturbed peninsula, where Na- 
tive Americans subsisted on abun- 
dant natural resources. 

Over the next 400 years, Indians 
and colonists skirmished. Civil War 
soldiers camped out, farmers grew 
tobacco and wheat and raised hogs 
and cows. Then, the Army built a 
communicaHons post and conducted 
top-secret tests to analyze nuclear ex- 
plosions' impacts on civilian electri- 
cal systems. The Army left in 1991 

AMY 2010 

and local conservationists, led by 
Waggener, launched a campaign to 
convert this prime waterfront real es- 
tate in the inexorably suburbanizing 
area into a refuge. Refuge advocates 
fought off schemes like Library of 
Congress warehouses, an office park, 
a golf course, a marina, and an enter- 
tainment complex. After a dogged ef- 
fort and leadership from several key 
elected officials, in 1994 Congress 
passed and the President signed a bill 
adding it to the national wildlife 
refuge system. 

Those "layers of civilization" have 
devolved into history. Today, with a 
train whistling, cars humming, and 
golfers whacking balls in the back- 
ground, Occoquan Bay National 
Wildlife Refuge may be reverting to 
its 17th-century, near-pristine state. 

In late January, Alexandrians 
Dave Boltz and Andy Bemick were 
stopped in their tracks by herring and 
riiig-billed gulls that picked up snail 
shells in their bills, flew up some 
30-50 feet and dropped the shells on 
the ice, cracking them so the meat 
was easier to access. 

Then the two birders were spell- 
bound by a "food drop" when an 
adult bald eagle dropped a morsel to 
a juvenile in mid-air after the juvenile 
had flown under the adult and ap- 
peared to be harassing it. The juvenile 
avian "gymnast" made a mid-air 

Nature amazes. D 

Gleiida C Booth, n freelance writer and legisla- 
tive consultant, grrto up in soidlmvst Virginia 
and has lived in Nortliern Virgiina for 37 years, 
where she is active in conservation efforts. 

The Basics 

OBNWR is part of a U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service unit, the Potomac River 
National Wildlife Refuge Complex. 

• Open year-round, daily; closed only for severe weather and during deer 
hunts. The Visitor Contact Station is open on some weekends. 

• On the DGIF Wildlife and Birding trail at 

• Address: 14344 Jefferson Davis Highway, Woodbridge, VA 22191; 
(703) 490-4979. Admission fee: $1 per person; $2 per car. 


FWS Website and directions: 
Friends of the Potomac River Refuges: 

Return to the 

by Bruce Ingram 

Ihear the diagnostic, rapid fire 
whistles — "yewk, yewk, yewk" 
— and immediately stop pad- 
dling in mid-stroke and look up. Sec- 
onds later, I spot an osprey hovering 
over the river and doing w^hat this 
avian does best — preparing to dive 
into the water to snare some hapless 
fish. "An osprey, an osprey," I say to 
no one in particular. "I am floating 
the Roanoke River, catching small- 
mouth bass, and looking at an os- 

Unless you are a long-time resi- 
dent of the Salem-Roanoke area, you 
likely have no idea how remarkable 
this all is. I grew up in the 1950s and 
'60s in Salem, near the Roanoke 
River. As a kid, I seined for minnows 
in Gish Branch and when my parents 
gave me my first bike, I pedaled a 

©Bruce Ingram 

mile to Masons Creek (like Gish 
Branch, a tributary of the Roanoke) 
to angle for redbreast sunfish, chain 
pickerel, and smallmouths. 

But except for two or three times, 
I never went fishing in the Roanoke. 
It was just too polluted and filled 
with trash. On one of those trips, 
while wading, I remember stepping 
on a car hood. Another time a fish 
kill had occurred, and dead carp and 
catfish lined the shore. My mom re- 
peatedly warned that little boys who 
wade the Roanoke "get infections." 
So when I earned my driver's li- 
cense, I traveled to the James instead. 

Bud LaRoche, Region 2 fisheries 
manager for the Department (DGIF), 
is a Roanoke County resident and 
knows well the history of the river's 
urban corridor. 

"For the most part, over the last 
ten years I believe that water quality 

has improved due to the replacement 
of the old sewer system (that ran 
along the river) with a larger and 
'tighter' system," he says. "Also, I 
think government agencies and the 
public are seeing the river in a differ- 
ent light these days. It's more of 'a 
place that we should take care of atti- 
tude' and not one of 'we wish it did 
not run through town' attitude. 

"I also think that the new 
Roanoke River Greenway that runs 
along the river for five miles now and 
eventually for 10 miles is becoming a 
great asset for the valley and for the 
river. I think it is providing a local 
place where people who maybe 
never used to get out and walk in na- 
ture are now able to basically walk 
across the street and stroll along the 
river. It provides them with a means 
of exercise and hopefully a new and 
improved sense of nature and, at the 

,. .K .>.-, r* :,-■ 

. " fr ifc. '•- 


same time, gives them a new appre- 
ciation of the river. When people 
begin to better appreciate the river 
and see it as 'their river,' they protect 
it more and become more active." 

LaRoche relates that the Roanoke 
River through town is fairly typical 
of a smaller ridge and valley stream 
in that it has a good diversity of 
fish — including several game 
species that attract anglers, such as 
smallmouth bass, redbreast sunfish, 
Roanoke bass, rock bass, chain pick- 
erel, and even a few crappie. 

The biologist adds that there is al- 
ways the chance of catching trout, as 
two delayed harvest sections and 
two put-and-take trout stocking sec- 
tions exist. The Roanoke does not 
support an abundance of large 
smallmouth bass because of the 
stream size and limited habitat re- 
quired to support many larger fish. 

However, there are a good number of 
fish in the 10- to 12-inch size range. 
One aspect of the fishery that can't be 
overlooked is tliat the stream is home 
to a relatively healthy population of 
the federally endangered Roanoke 
logperch (Perciua rex). 

Mike Donahue, a member of the 
Roanoke Valley Bird Club, informs 
that 245 species of birds have been 
identified at the Roanoke Sewage 
Treatment Plant (STP), located down- 
stream from Wasena Park. Among the 
most exciting finds, says Donahue, 
are the endangered piping plover, 
loggerhead shrike, long-billed dow- 
itcher, the three species of phalaropes, 
peregrine falcons, and Baird's sand- 

"The STP is one of the best places 
in western Virginia to spot shorebirds, 
waterfowl, and raptors," enthuses 

Left, the Solem Rotary Park float 
shown here offers many sections 
where peddlers appear to be out 
in the country. Below, Roanoke 
County's Jeff Wold holds a fine 
smallmouth that he caught from 
the Roanoke. 

©Bruce Ingram 


Want to know several reasons why the 
fishing and water quality have im- 
proved on the Roanoke? Ned Yost, 
who owns the historic McDonalds Mill 
property on the North Fork of the 
Roanoke in Montgomery County, de- 
tails the sequence of events on the 
upper watershed. 

"In the 1990s along the North Fork 
below Luster's Gate, a foresighted 
farmer, working with the DGIF, fenced 
his cattle out of his stretch of the 
stream," says Yost. "Upstream, then 
anotherlandownerdidthesameon his 
stretch of the North Fork." 

Next in 2007, the Department's 
Landowner Incentive Program (LIP) 
provided the impetus for three 
restoration projects, starting at Head- 
waters Farm, where a spring and a trib- 
utary join to give the North Fork its sub- 
stantial flow. DGIF biologists Bill Ben- 
nett and Brian Watson tailored the LIP 
restoration work to the needs of each 
section of the stream. At Headwaters 
Farm, for example, the North Fork was 
returned to its original course. 

Additionally, Yost says that high 
banks were graded back, then matted 
and planted with trees and grass. At 
another section, cedar tree revet- 
ments were anchored into eroding 
banks. Exclusion fencing and cattle 
crossings also were put in place. After 
this work was completed, the New 
River Valley Chapter of Trout Unlimited 
planted trees along two long stretches 
of the North Fork. Two more landown- 
ers downstream are now using LIP to 
aid in restoration of their properties. 
Catawba LandCare estimates restora- 
tion work is in process or has been 
completed on over 9,000 feet of the 
North Fork since 2007. 

Ned Yost's goal: a reproducing trout 
population in the North Fork— an ap- 
propriate testimony to the restoration 

DGIF Fisheries Biologist Joe Williams observes where cedar tree revetments were 
anchored into eroding banks on the North Fork of the Roanoke. What has been 
happening on the headwaters has helped make the fishery downstream better. 

Green Hill Park 
TO Salem Rotary Park 

Access Points: If coming from 
Roanoke, turn left off West Main 
Street in Salem. Put-in is on river right 
within Green Hill Park. Parking 
spaces are numerous in a paved lot. If 
coming from Salem, turn right off 
Route 419 (Electric Road) to reach 
Salem Rotary Park. You'll have to 
slide your boat down a sloping bank 
on river left. Parking is limited. 
Distance: 6 miles 

Rapids: Numerous Class I, occasion- 
al Class II in high water. 

The Green Hill Park float courses 
through the heart of downtown 
Salem. Of the three floats listed here, 
this one is the most likely to be 
plagued by low water conditions, es- 
pecially by early July. One of the most 
interesting aspects of this float is that 
it contains two "Delayed Harvest Wa- 
ters" (DHW), so a trout license is re- 
quired from October 1 through June 

The first DHW is from a sign post- 
ed at the upper end of Green Hill Park 
to the Route 760 Bridge downstream 
1 mile to the Route 760 Bridge (Di- 
uguids Lane). The second occurs 
from the Colorado Street Bridge 

For the Salem Rotary Park float, pad- 
dlers will put in just upstream from the 
Route 419 Bridge. Right, the Roanoke 
River Green way offers easy access to 
the stream for walkers, bikers, anglers, 
and birdwatchers. 

downstream 2.2 miles to the Route 
419 Bridge. One result of the trout 
stocking effort that I have observed is 
rainbows, smallmouths, and large- 
mouths finning the same pool — an 
uncommon occurrence anywhere in 
the Old Dominion. 

Salem Rotary Park 
TO Wasena Park 

Access Points: Wasena Park is locat- 
ed in downtown Roanoke off Main 
Street via Brandon Avenue. The take- 

out is on river right. You'll have to 
carry your canoe up a grassy bank. 
Parking spaces are numerous in a 
paved lot. 
Distance: 5 Yi miles 
Rapids: Numerous Class I 

At times, the Rotary Park junket 
gives the impression that one is out 
in the country, as sycamores, silver 
maples, and box elders envelope 
the shoreline and orchard orioles, 
hooded warblers, and wood 
thrushes serenade the paddler. On 
other occasions, houses and indus- 
trial buildings crowd the banks. Re- 
gardless, smallmouths, rock bass, 
and redbreast sunfish are abun- 
dant, and on one excursion with 
Roanoke County's Jeff Wold, he 
landed a fine 15-inch smallie. 

Other characteristics are the nu- 
merous road and railroad bridges 
that span this section of the river 
and the concrete remains of former 
bridges and bridge supports that 
dot the bottom and banks. Several 
islands make for good places to 
stop for a shore lunch, as well as to 
observe spotted sandpipers, great 
blue herons, and red-winged black- 

Rivers Edge Sports Complex 
TO Sewage Treatment Plant 

Access Points: At Rivers Edge Sports 
Complex, put-in is below the low 
water bridge on river right. The access 
point is below the Franklin Road 
Bridge and off Belleview Avenue. 
Parking is available. The river right 
take-out is beneath the Bennington 
Street Bridge. A paved walkway leads 
to a parking lot off Bennington Street 
via Riverland Road. 
Distance: 4 miles 
Rapids: Class I and riffles 

The first part of this float is very 
urban; you will float past Roanoke Me- 
morial Hospital and under several 
bridges. For most of the rest of the 
stretch, trees line much of the river left 
bank while homes, roads, and the 
greenway characterize the right shore- 
line. Like the previous excursion, the 
remains of old structures and low 
water dams create drops. The river's 
flow forms numerous braided chan- 
nels (exciting places to fish), and near 
the end of the get-away on river right 
you can spot the famous Mill Moun- 
tain Star, which is the reason Roanoke 
is caUed the "Star City." 

Summing Up 

Bud LaRoche sums up the impor- 
tance of the Roanoke River to the 
Roanoke-Salem area. 

"The Roanoke's a great recre- 
ational resource for urban dwellers 
because it's a great canoe and kayak 
stream and has good fishiiig for a di- 
versity of species. It is home to a wide 
range of water birds and songbirds, 
and it's so close to home for many in 
the valley," he concludes. 'Tn addi- 
tion, the river is relatively accessible 
for many folks because there is so 
much public land along the stream, 
and where the land is private, many 
landowners have agreed to open ac- 
cess to the public — such as in the 
trout stocking areas. 

"It's really a very unique situation 
to have such a wonderful recreation- 
al resource virtvially in our own back- 
yards. There aren't many areas the 
size of the Roanoke Valley that are 
fortunate enough to have such a 
river. Luckily, I think the different 
goveniing agencies across the valley 
are finally beginning to look at the 
river as more of a valuable resource 
instead of just a flood way that causes 
problems." D 

Bruce Ingram has authored many guide books, 
most recenth/ Fly and Spin Fishing for River 
Smallmouths ($19.25). Co)itact Iwn at for more information. 

inroRnniion SOURCES: 

Catawba LandCare: 

Landowner Incentive Program (LIP): 

Roanoke Valley Bird Club: 

Roanoke Valley CVB: 
(540) 342-6025, (800) 635-5535 

Roanoke Valley Chapter of Float 
Fishermen of Virginia: 

Fishing From Tei 

story and photos 
by Charlie Petrocci 

I stood on the fishing pier, one in a 
long thin line of anglers spread 
out like sentinels waiting for an 
unseen battle about to unfold. Rods 
were the weapons and the quarry lay 
hidden below. Gazing down the row 
of various length rods, I noted many 
happy faces, of various color, gender, 
and age. The mixed group of anglers 
readily engaged their unknown 
neighbors in discussions of bait, 
hooks, politics, and weather. In be- 
tween tliese sessions of verbal joust- 
ing, shouts of joy echoed off the water 
whenever a rod bent or a fish slid 
across the pier, evading little grasp- 
ing hands. The spot and croaker were 
running and it was every woman, 
child, and man for himself. Fishing 
had brought us all here this day £ind it 
was the simplicity of shore-bound 
fishing that bonded us together. 

The Eastern Shore is well 
renowned for its fishing phenomena. 
Generations of anglers have plied her 
waters using fishing vessels of every 
shape and size imaginable. And their 
efforts have been well rewarded. But 
you don't always need a boat to enjoy 
a great day of fishing among the 
shore's myriad coastal bays, tidal 
creeks, and beautiful beaches. There 
are many public fishing sites avail- 
able for shoreline anglers and oppor- 
tunities abound. And most of them 
include user-friendly, publicly 
owned fishing piers and park areas. 

Terra Flrma 

Though I own a small fleet of boats 
myself — from kayaks to a center con- 
sole, and several types in between — I 
sometimes find it quite enticing to be 
able to jump in my truck with a cou- 

ple of fishing rods, point the vehicle 
in the right direction, and head out to 
a shoreline spot nearby. Some of my 
favorite spots are of public domain, 
open for everyone, while others are a 
bit more intrepid in nature. All offer 
great fishing potential for a variety of 
Virginia gamefish, though. And fish- 
ing from a shoreline or a pier is a lot 
less taxing, since you don't face all 
the hassles associated with hauling a 
boat, gear, and added fuel expendi- 
tures. Of course fishing from a boat 
gives an angler a much better 
"perch" over a shore-bound experi- 
ence, but that being said, there have 
been many days when I've done just 
as well fishing from a dock as those 
anglers running a high dollar boat. 
Redeeming qualities of shoreline 
fishing include the fact that, if one 
spot doesn't produce, I can always 
pack up and spin off to another one 
down the road. 


ra Firma 

The. Casters Skore. 
Has H^i^ty to offer 

"1 love to take my family fishing 
from piers each year, says Larry 
Stevens of Richmond, as he unhooks 
another fat croaker from his son's 
fishing line. It's safe, economical, and 
if the kids get bored, there are other 
things in the park for them to do." But 
from the looks of their wiggling 
guests in the cooler, the fishing was 
sport enough this day. 

In addition to the simplicity of 
shoreline fishing is the camaraderie 
factor. If you are fortunate enough, 
sometimes you can find yourself in 
sole possession of a fishing spot. But 
more often than not, other anglers 
will be vying for the attention of fish 
at the same location. And I believe 
sometimes that is a good thing. I 
guess I'm of the gregarious sort, and 
fishing can be great common ground 
for conversation. I cut my teeth as a 
kid fishing from public docks and 
piers and found the verbal engage- 

ment with some of those crusty old 
fishermen with whom I shared a rail 
almost as rewarding as the fishing ac- 
tion itself. I certainly learned a lot 
from these characters, many of 
whom became fixations on particular 
piers and had colorful names to boot. 

<3recxr Up 

As far as tackle goes, you don't need 
anything too complicated to fish 
from shoreline areas. And that's an 
important consideration for fisher- 
men on a budget or for making a fam- 
ily outing cost effective. In most East- 
ern Shore situations a 7- to 8-foot 
medium /heavy spinning rod outfit 
will allow you to haul off to those not- 
too-far-off sweet spots. And an 8- to 
10-foot conventional rod will get you 
farther out if you are seeking bigger 
game. But since I find shoreline and 
(continued on p. 19) 

Cut spot and small bluefish can lead to 
catching larger bluefish, flounder, rock- 
fish, and red drum. Bring plenty of tackle 
options and a measuring tape. 

Gear Essentials: 

♦ A good sized cooler to hold drinks, lunch, 
bait and, of course, fish 

♦ Assorted types of bait 

♦ Fishing rods (spinning and/or bait casting 

♦ Flashlight, lamp, or headlight if night 

♦ Cutting board, fish knives, rags 

♦ Hat, sunglasses, sunscreen 

♦ Gear bag with hooks, weights, and 
assorted lures 

♦ Plastic bags to hold cleaned fish 

The well lit pier at Kiptopeke (L) draws 
fish and fishermen. It features benches, 
a fish cleaning area, and room to spread 
out. Here, the author casts bucktailsfor 
stripers from the pier at Saxis. 



Accessible 'Piers 

Listed here are a handful of publicly acces- 
sible, land-based fishing sites located 
around the Eastern Shore that offer plenty 
of opportunity for anglers and their fami- 
lies to enjoy a great day of fishing. Most of 
these public areas are handicap accessible 
and some are license-free for all anglers. 

Cape Charles Fishing Pier 

(west on Route 184 to Mason Ave) 
This 300-foot-long pier was redesigned in 
2005, with 12-foot-wide passageways. It's 
lighted and sits right at the entrance to the 
Cape Charles Harbor channel. There is no 
saltwater license required to fish here. It 
also has a small covered pavilion area as 
well. Available species found here include 
striped bass, kingfish, spot, croaker, sea 
bass, red drum, black drum, cobia, floun- 
der, and both gray and speckled trout. 

Kiptopeke Fishing Pier 

This beautiful fishing area is located in Kip- 
topeke State Park and was developed in 
1998. There is a small entrance fee to fish 
the park area. The pier is well lighted, 
handicap accessible, and there is plenty of 
room for anglers to spread out. Picnic ta- 
bles, a fish cleaning station, and a large 
boat ramp are also on site. The pier offers 
great views of the old concrete breakwa- 
ter ships, especially at sunset. The nearby 
beach is also a good spot to wade fish. 
Available species include speckled trout, 
red drum, Spanish mackerel, flounder, 
spot, croaker, striped bass, black drum, 
gray trout, kingfish, and even cobia. 

Morley's Wharf Fishing Pier 

(off Route 606 in Wardtown) 
This 150-foot-long public pier was com- 
pleted in 1999. Located on beautiful Occo- 
hannock Creek, it has a 50-foot-wide "L" 
head area and is handicap accessible. Fish- 
ing is permitted 24 hours a day and there is 
a boat ramp adjacent to the parking area. 
It is also the site of an annual kids fishing 
tournament. You do not need a saltwater 
license to fish here. Available species in- 
clude striped bass, spot, croaker, flounder, 

red drum, specMed trout, kingfish, gray 
trout, and white perch. 

Guard Shore 

(west of Bloxom, off Route 684) 
This unimproved fishing area received its 
name because it served as a lookout post 
by American forces during the War of 
1812. It has a sandy beach, which is great 
for wade fishing, and a long rip-rap section 
of rocks to cast from. It's a good place to 
score spot, croaker, flounder, trout, blue- 
fish, and stripers. 

Saxis Island Fishing Pier 

(off Route 695) 

This Department-owned, lighted pier was 
built in 2002 and extends 200 feet out into 
the Pocomoke Sound area. With its 100- 
foot-wide "T" head, there is plenty of cast- 
ing room for anglers. Fishing is permitted 
24 hours a day and it's handicap accessible. 
Available species include striped bass, 
white perch, speckled trout, red drum, 
kingfish, flounder, gray trout, catfish, spot, 
and croaker. 

Chincoteague Island 

(Route 175 east) 

There are several places to fish from in and 
around Chincoteague Island. One is locat- 
ed on the way into the island off the Route 
175 causeway. A bulkhead fishing area and 
shoreline area are located on either side of 
the Queens Sound Bridge. Park near the 
county boat ramp. Another user-friendly 
site is the Town Park fishing pier, complete 
with two covered pavilions. This park is lo- 
cated on the east side of the island and no 
license is required to fish here. Evening 
fishing produces trout, stripers, blues, and 
sharks, while daytime action can be good 
on flounder, spot, croaker, and small sea 
bass. Public fishing is also permitted along 
the bulkhead at the Town Dock boat ramp 
across from the firehouse on Main Street. 
This site experiences a strong tide, but 
flounder, croaker, bluefish, and stripers 
can be caught. And finally, Assateague 
Beach offers miles of unsurpassed beauty 
and plenty of room to fish. You can do well 

fishing out in front of the parking areas 
catching bluefish, spot, kingfish, blowfish, 
sharks, skates, and striped bass during 
their big fall run. You'll need a surf rod, 
though, to get in on the action. 

Sea Gull Island Pier 

(on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel) 
Though technically not located on the 
Eastern Shore, it is easily accessible from 
this side of paradise. The "granddaddy" of 
all the piers in the region, this 600-foot- 
long monster extends out into fertile fish- 
ing waters of the bay. It will cost you the 
vehicle bridge fee to fish here, but the po- 
tential action can be worth it. Species 
available include sheepshead, triggerfish, 
tautog, sea bass, trout, cobia, red drum, 
black drum, kingfish, flounder, sharks, 
blues, and striped bass. A restaurant on 
site helps take away the sting of a hungry 

Of course there are other Eastern Shore 
land-side places to fish, including plain old 
wade-fishing from shore. But there's only 
one way to find them and that's to get out 
there, explore, and have fun fishing 
among unknown waters 

The refurbished pier at Cape Charles gives anglers a shot at a variety offish 
species at least nine months of the year and, as a bonus, beautiful sunset viev\/s. 

The Sea Gull Island pie^ucated on iheCBBT, offers over 600 feet to haul offfronn. 
It can become very popular during the summer fishing season. 

pier fishing sites on the Shore are often 
limited to ubiquitous species, such as 
sea trout, croaker, spot, flounder, blue- 
fish, white perch, and striped bass, 
you only need a good spinning rod or 

Depending on where you have set 
up, there's always the chance to catch 
red drum, tautog, sharks, and even a 
larger class of rockfish, so you may 
have to gear up a bit. And since you 
never know what lurks out there, it's 
wise to spool up with good quality line 
in the 12- to 20-pound range. For new 
anglers or families there are rod, reel, 
and line outfits available that are al- 
ready matched for pier fishing action. 
Buying one will take the complication 
out of choosing the right combination. 
And local tackle shops will be happy 
to help you get what you need. 

For terminal fishing tackle, most 
shoreline anglers like to use a simple 
double dropper rig, garnished with 
two kinds of bait. This set-up will give 
you a shot at a couple of different 
species, in most cases, and lets you 
quickly determine what's in the area 
and which baits are working best. A 
fishfinder rig baited with strips of cut 
bait will also give you a shot at larger 
game. Easy and effecfive baits for pier 
fishing include bloodworms, scjuid, 
shrimp, and clam. Small, fresh cit-up 
spot or bluefish are also excellent. And 
for convenience, there are several very 
effecfive synthefic baits on the market, 
which you might consider keeping in 
your vehicle should a fishing opportu- 
nity arise. 

Fishing action often follows the 
seasons. "Bread and butter" fish for 
many shore-bound anglers are spot, 
croaker, kingfish, blues, emd flounder. 
These are primarily accessible during 
summer and early fall. But on the 
shoulder seasons of spring and late fall 
are striped bass, bluefish, tautog, sea 
bass, and weakfish, among others. 
With such a wide spread of seasonal 
species, anglers have plenty of fish to 
target. D 

Clinrlie Petrocci is a maritiiiiL' heritage researcher, 
lecturer, and consultant who specializes in coastal 
traditions such as fisheries, seafood, and commu- 
nity folklife. He has lived on the Shore for 25 years. 





Gray Bat 




by Cristina Santiestevan 
illustrations by Spike Knuth 

When a New York caver 
took photographs of hi- 
bernating bats with 
mysterious white noses in February 
2006, there wasn't a name for the con- 
dition. It had never been seen before. 
Now, four years later, white-nose 
syndrome has killed hundreds of 
thousands of bats, from New Eng- 
land to Virginia. Some estimates put 
the toll at closer to a million bats, with 
more dying every winter. "We are 
looking at some very significant 
changes in bat populations and 
species composition," says Rick 
Reynolds, a wildlife biolo- 

Indiana Bat 

gist with the Virginia Department of 
Game and Inland Fisheries. Extinc- 
tions, according to Reynolds, are a 
very real possibility. 

Those first photographs were 
taken in Howe Caverns, about 40 
miles west of Albany, New York. A 
year later, the condition had spread 
to four neighboring caves in New 
York. By the following winter, white- 
nose syndrome was recognized as a 
serious threat to bat survival, and 
had been identified in Connecticut, 
Massachusetts, and Vermont, as well 
as additional locations within New 
York. Then, in early April 2009, the 
Department (DGIF) received some 
very bad news from the U.S. Geologi- 
cal Survey National Wildlife Health 
Center in Madison, Wisconsin. 
White-nose syndrome (WNS) had 
made it to Virginia, as confirmed by 
laboratory analysis of several speci- 
mens DGIF had sent to the National 
Wildlife Health Center for testing. As 


of early 2010, white-nose syndrome 
has been confirmed in five Virginia 
counties: Bath, Bland, Giles, Rock- 
ingham, and Smyth. 

The affected bats' white noses — 
and ears, wings, and tails — are the 
product of a previously unknown 
type of fungus, Geomyces destruc- 
tans. The fungus thrives in the cold 
and humid conditions that are typi- 
cal of bats' preferred hibernation 
sites, and produces a fuzzy growth 
of white fungal fibers, known as hy- 
phae, on their bodies 

Before it appeared on America's bats, 
this fungus had never been seen. No 
one knows where it came from, or 
why it has begun to appear now. No 
one knows whether the fungus is ac- 
tually killing the bats, or if it is just a 
side-effect of some other condition. 
And, no one really knows why white- 
nose syndrome may be killing bats. 
In fact, beyond its undeniable lethali- 
ty, there is precious little we do know 
about white-nose syndrome. And 
this may be the biggest problem with 
the fungus. "It's so new and different 
that we just don't know what to ex- 
pect," explains Reynolds. "We just 
learn as we go." 

White-nose syndrome could be 
devastating to Virginia, which is 
home to three federally endangered 
bat species: the gray bat (Myotis 
grisescens), Indiana bat (Myotis 
sodalis), and Virginia big- 
eared bat (Corynorhinus 
townsendii virginianus). 

(continued on p. 22) 

Little Brown Bat 



To date, white-nose syndrome has 
been confirmed in only a handful of 
Virginia counties. But, if New England 
is any example, we can expect the fun- 
gal infection to expand rapidly in the 
coming years. We need your eyes to 
help us track white-nose syndrome in 
our bat population. Please contact the 
Department if you find a dead or dying 
bat, or if you see a live bat displaying 
any of these symptoms: 

X white fungus on the nose, face, 

body, or wings 
X flying outside during the day, 

especially during the winter and 

early spring 

troubleflying, or the appearance 

of confusion or disorientation 


These bats, along with the eastern 
big-eared bat (Corynorhinus 
rafinesquii), eastern small-footed bat 
(Myotis leibii) and southeastern bat 
(Myotis austroriparius), are consid- 
ered species of greatest conservation 
need in the state of Virginia, and are a 
priority for conservation specialists 
and biologists. With the arrival of 
white-nose syndrome in Virginia, 
some biologists believe that all of Vir- 
ginia's cave-dwelling bats should be 
included on this list. This would 
bring the list of conservation-priority 
species to eight — approximately half 
of Virginia's entire visiting bat popu- 

The trouble 
strikes cave- 
dwelling bats during 
the winter months, when 
they should be hibernating qui- 
etly in caves and caverns. But, for 
unknown reasons, bats affected with 
white-nose syndrome are waking up 
in the middle of the winter. Some 


simply shift around in their caves, 
but others actually fly off in search of 
food — sometimes in the middle of 
the day. This, of course, defies years 
of evolutionary adaptation to hiber- 
nating through the winter months 
when their food source — insects — is 
absent. Some biologists speculate 
that the fungus is uncomfortable, 
and disturbs the bats enough to 
wake them up. 

When bats hibernate, their metabo- 
lism slows. But, once they wake up, 
their metabolism speeds up, and they 
begin burning through their valuable 
energy stores. If a hibernating bat is 
disturbed enough by the discomfort 
of the fungus, it could theoretical- 
ly use up all its energy reserves 
long before the winter ends. 
Hungry and confused, the 
emaciated bats fly from 
their caves in search of in- 
sects. Instead, they find 
nothing more than sunlight 
and snowscapes and starve 
long before the spring thaw. 

The impacts of WNS are also show- 
ing up at maternity sites where re- 
searchers are finding a decrease in re- 
productive capability (the percentage 
of pregnant females and percentage of 
young produced). The reproductive 
strategy of bats is delayed fertiliza- 
tion. If a female is weak or compro- 
mised from WNS, she may choose to 
abandon reproduction in order to sus- 
tain her own health. 

An itchy fungal infection with 
lethal timing is one theory. Others sus- 
pect that the fungus is only a symp- 
tom of a larger problem, perhaps a 

Northern Long-eared Bat 

systemic infection or disease. What- 
ever the cause, white-nose syndrome 
kills bats with a terrifying efficiency. 
Some caves in New York have lost 90 
to 100% of their bats. Whole popula- 
tions are disappearing, and in the 
timeframe of just a year or two. Biolo- 
gists are beginning to worry that we 
will lose entire species of bats. 

Some might be tempted to mutter 
"good riddance" at the thought of bat 
extinctions. But bats play a critical 
role in our environment, on our 
farms, and in our backyards and gar- 
dens. A single bat can eat up to its 
weight in bugs every night. This adds 
up quickly. Across the United States, 
bats eat literally tons of moths, bee- 
tles, mosquitoes, and other insects 
every night. If white-nose syndrome 
continues to decimate bat popula- 
tions, those uneaten insects will need 

to be controlled in other ways, in- 
creasing the time and expense re- 
quired to manage our yards and gar- 
dens, farms, and forestland. 

Here in Virginia — with three en- 
dangered species of bats and a large 
network of caves and caverns — 
we could be hit especially hard 
by white-nose syndrome. Ac- 
cording to Reynolds, biolo- 
gists in West Virginia have al- • 
ready discovered caves with 
"buckets-full" of dead bats. 
Reynolds believes, "We will 
see a lot of the same here . . . 
it's probably just a matter of 
time." C 

Cristina Santiestevan writes about 
iLnldlife and the environment from 
her home in Virginia's Blue Ridge 


Here are three simple ways you can help give Virginia's bats a 
fighting chance against white-nose syndrome: 

^ Biologists believe the fungus may spread through bat-to-bat con- 
tact, as well as through contaminated clothing or caving gear. For 
that reason, biologists have called for a complete moratorium on 
caving until they better understand WNS and how to treat it. At a 
minimum, you can help reduce the risk of infection by observing 
all cave closures, in Virginia and elsewhere. 
for a current list of cave closures. 

X Learn the symptoms of white-nose syndrome and report any 
suspicious bat activity to DGIF at the following site: 

Eastern Small-footed Bat 

Share information about white-nose syndrome with friends and 
family, and support programs that are working to save bats, such 
as Virginia's Nongame Fund ( 
?campaign=nongame-fund) and Bat Conservation International 

^MY 2010 



Conserving Turtles, 

Connecting Cliiidren 

with Nature 

by Marie Majarov 

The sparkle in a child's eye 
when experiencing nature 
close up and personal is mag- 
ical. Sadly, however, many children 
today are becoming disconnected 
from streams, frogs, turtles, butter- 
flies, forests, insects, and flowers, 
and instead learning about the natu- 
ral world from TV programs or com- 
puter games. They experience little 
intimate contact with the wonders of 
nature itself. 

Further disquieting is that pre- 
cious natural resources are also at 
great risk. Loss and fragmentation of 
critical habitat have resulted in a de- 
cline in many species of flora and 
fauna once common and bountiful. 
What will be the consequences for 
our children's development? Where 
will our future nature stewards 
come from? What will be the condi- 
tion of the natural world we leave 

Richard Louv, author of the land- 
mark book Last Child in the Woods, 
details research indicating that the 
costs to children alienated from na- 
ture will be seen in: "diminished use 
of the senses, attention difficulties, 
and higher rates of physical and 
emotional illnesses," the phenome- 
na he terms "Nature Deficit Disor- 
der." However, he passionately em- 
phasizes that deficit is only one side 
of the coin: "By weighing the conse- 


quences of this disorder, we can be- 
come more aware of how blessed our 
children can be — biologically, cogni- 
tively, and spiritually — through posi- 
tive physical connection to nature." 
Our focus should be not on "what is 
lost when nature fades but what is 
gained in the presence of the natural 
world." (p. 34-35) 

The Department of Game and In- 
land Fisheries (DGIF), takes the im- 
perative of conserving our wildlife 
and their habitats very seriously and 
has launched an innovative Virginia 
Box Turtle Monitoring Program 
statewide. The program is based on a 
2008-2009 pilot study collaboratively 
undertaken by talented researchers at 
DGIF and Virginia Commonwealth 
University's Rice Center for Environ- 
mental Life Sciences. Further support 
and indispensable help have been 


Aho\je, what a handsome face! The distinctive red iris of this eastern box turtle, 
Terrapene Carolina, Indicates It is a male. Below left, teachers learn to Identify 
parts of a box turtle shell and proper techniques to apply identification markings. 

provided by the creative North Car- 
olina Box Turtle Connection project. 

At the heart of this program are 
full-day workshops held throughout 
Virginia to train science teachers to 
involve elementary, middle, and high 
school students directly in hands-on 
conservation techniques and activi- 
ties that collect critical distribution 
and population data on a threatened, 
venerable old friend, the eastern box 
turtle, Terrapene Carolina. Comprehen- 
sive, long-term studies describing 
box turtle population trends are rare 
and very much needed. 

To many of us these peaceful rep- 
tiles seem a common and therefore 
plentiful species, bvit in actuality, they 

MAY 2010 

are a species in serious decline. In ad- 
dition to habitat loss, trade of wild 
caught turtles, highway mortality, 
predation, and relocations by well- 
meaning citizens have all taken their 
toll. Even the rapidly expanding net- 
work of cell phone towers across the 
land greatly disturbs box turtle habi- 
tat, allowing more sunlight and wind 
to penetrate an area and chcuiging crit- 
ical temperature and food conditions. 
These factors, taken together with 
poor reproductive rates and few 
young turtles surviving, spell serious 
danger for the gentle box turtle. 

Population and ecological data col- 
lected by the children and their teach- 
ers will inform conservation efforts on 


Mecklenburg County Science Coordinator 
Sandra Jewel learns how to properly meas- 
ure a turtle's carapace by practicing with 
the shell of a turtle that died in the wild. 

the gentle turtles' behalf and also be- 
come part of another Department en- 
deavor, the Wildlife Mapping Pro- 
gram, in which citizens and various 
groups collect wildlife-related infor- 
mation made available to everyone 
through the agency's biological data- 

A Biologist and His Turtles 

DGIF biologist and herpetologist 
John D. Kleopfer, known affection- 
ately to all as "J.D.," directs this inno- 
vative program, understanding well 
the importance of youth experienc- 
ing nature first-hand. Ever since "I 
held my first red-eared slider as a 
child," he notes with an impish grin, 
"I was hooked on nature of all 
kinds — particularly turtles, rattle- 
snakes, and bats!" 

That red-eared slider set J.D. on an 
inspired career path that brought 
him, eventually, to the Department 
five years ago. His stewardship and 
commitment to the environment, 
along with a drive to involve chil- 
dren, radiate — making him a first- 
class role model. 

J.D. believes that the "charismat- 
ic" box turtle, (an interesting choice 
of words as it also describes J.D.!) is 
the ideal animal to help make in- 
roads toward reconnecting youth to 

J.D. shows teachers how radios are attached 
to a turtle carapace. 

Future Workshops 
and Wildlife Education 

Suzie Gilley, who coordinates DGIF 
wildlife education in the schools, assists 
J.D. Kleopfer in arranging workshops 
and serving as the point person for 
teachers. Interested teachers can con- 
tact Ms. Gilley for information about fu- 
ture Box Turtle Monitoring Workshops 
and other exciting wildlife activities by 
ennail to Suzie. Gilley(5)dgif.virginia. gov 
or at (804) 367-0188. Parents who 
would like to have their children in- 
volved in more nature-based activities 
should encourage their children's teach- 
ers to contact Ms. Gilley. 


nature. "Everyone, 8 to 80 years of 
age, loves turtles," he states, adding, 
"They are gentle-natured, slow-mov- 
ing, easily handled, and carry a rela- 
tively low risk of communicating dis- 
ease. They're perfect for educational 
purposes! However, we do not pro- 
mote the collection of box turtles as 
pets, which has been a major conser- 
vation concern for this species." 

Box turtle basics serve as a starting 
point for teacher training. True terres- 
trial turtles native to the forests and 
wet meadows of Virginia, box turtles 
show great variety in the colors and 
patterns of their carapace, or high- 
domed upper shell. They are the only 
species that can completely and 
tightly enclose themselves using the 
living tissue of their hinged plastron 
(bottom shell). Unchanged in their bi- 
ology for over 20 million years (! ), box 
turtles are creatures of simple habits: 
eating, resting, mating, and lumber- 
ing about for lifetimes that can last up 
to a century. Existing in territories as 
small as three or four acres, they often 
return to the same spot winter after 
winter to hibernate. 

During the workshops, critical 
conservation principles are stressed: 
Box turtles do not take kindly to new 
locations, for example. Long distance 
movement patterns, which often put 
them in harm's way, are common in 

Ms. Sarah Bottorff, one of the first teachers trained in Kleopfer's program, 
prepares students in her class to handle and measure box turtles in the wild. 
Cognizant of the dangers of removing box turtles from the wild, a fellow 
teacher's red-eared sliders are used in the classroom for practice. 

turtles that are released into strange 
new surroundings. While carefully 
stopping to move box turtles from 
the middle of roads to safety along 
the road edge (always in the direction 
they are heading) is beneficial, relo- 
cating thirties to one's backyard, mov- 
ing them to a different location, or 
holding for study or as a pet for 
longer than 30 days dangerously 

puts their chances for survival at 
"slim to none." It is also a violation of 
Virginia wildlife laws to release a box 
turtle back into the wild more than 
30 days after capture. 

Difficulties in safely relocating 
turtles have led J.D. and colleagues at 
the Rice Center to design and com- 
plete a unique piece of research 
using radio telemetry to follow turtle 

movement. Methods of turtle reloca- 
tion were carefully addressed to pro- 
vide useful tools for wildlife man- 
agers who are frequently faced with 
this thorny conservation problem. 
Penning box thirties for a full year on 
the Rice Center property in an appro- 
priate natural habitat significantly re- 
duced the turtle's movement pat- 
tenis when the pen was removed and 
subsequently improved their chance 
for survival. 

Teacher Education 
and Student Involvement 

After box turtle basics, teachers study 
and practice the necessary skills to 
conduct a box turtle census, learning: 
how to survey the areas they will 
monitor, gender identification, age 
determination, biology and anatomy, 
theories of mark and recapture to es- 
timate populations, proper tech- 
nicjues to measure and weigh turtles, 
data collection, field etiquette, and 
field safety. Detailed instructions in 
using turtle identification codes and 
marking turtles are demonstrated. 
Radio telemetry equipment and 
trairiing to securely attach a radio to a 
turtle shell are introduced. Properly 
replacing a surveyed box turtle to tlie 
very same spot and orientation 
where it was found is underscored . 

High school ecology students use DeLORME Atlas & Gazetteers, from a DGIF 
grant to schools, to understand the principles of latitude and longitude. 

Students learn how to measure the 
hinge area of a turtle's plastron. 

MAY 2010 


Each teacher is given a handbook 
that includes study guides, lesson 
plans, data collection forms, and ma- 
terials for activities that will prepare 
their students for fieldwork with tur- 
tles; also provided, a field bag with 
calipers, triangular file, and tubular 
spring scale all used in data collection 
and turtle marking. Necessary per- 
mit applications for marking and 
surveying box turtle populations are 

Teachers leave after a very full 
day eager to return to their schools, 
their heads brimming with creative 
ideas and resources. Back home, 
however, is where the real work be- 
gins involving the students in box 
turtle monitoring activities. This au- 
thentic hands-on opportunity will 
promote learning by doing and actu- 
ally encourages many lessons in ad- 
dition to connecting young people 
directly with nature. Teamwork, re- 
flection, observation, practical math 
integration, science, reading, com- 
puter literacy, and writing scientific 
as well as creative pieces about box 
turtles and their experiences are all 
part of the process. Who would have 
thought the humble box turtle could 
be so versatile and helpful in educat- 
ing young people! 

Take a look at the young faces in 
the pictures on page 27: students of 
Hanover High School Ecology 
Teacher Ms. Sara Bottorff, who en- 
thusiastically uses turtle monitoring 
lessons in her classes. For many of 
them this was their first time ever to 
hold a turtle. It was memorable for 
all, and for some you could see the 
magic happening. 

Futiire herpetologists and biolo- 
gists? Certainly, they are young peo- 
ple who will now grow up with an in- 
creased awareness of the importance 
and fragility of the natural world. 
And that would be a fine yardstick, 
by anyone's judgment, for measur- 
ing success, n 

Marie and Milan Majarov ( 
are clinical psychologists, nature enthusiasts, 
and members of the Virginia Outdoor Writers 
Associatio)! who maintain a bluebird trail and 
butterfly garden in their backyard. 


Last Child in the Woods; Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, by 
Richard Louv. Published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. 2006. 

The Virginia Box Turtle Monitoring Program Training Manual based on The Box 
Turtle Connection: A Passageway into the Natural World, by Ann Berry Somers and 
Catherine E. Matthews of the University of North Carolina Greensboro, 2006. Edited 
for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries by John (J. D.) Kleopfer. 

DGIF Wildlife Education Websites: 

Virginia's Wildlife Mapping Program Website: 




i.U d 


2010 Outdoor 
Calendar of Events 

Unless otherwise noted, for current infor- 
mation and registration on workshops go 
to the "Upcoming Events" page on our 
website at or call 


May 6-8: Great Dismal Swamp Birding 
Festival, Suffolk; 
northeast / greatdismalswamp / . 

May 8: 16th annual International 
Migratory Bird Celebration, 
Chincoteague National Wildlife 
Refuge; www.chincoteague 

May 15: Spring turkey season closes. 

May 15: Roanoke River Renaissance, 
Wasena Park, Roanoke. For more 
information: / rvc / . 

May 14—16: Becoming an Outdoors- 
Woman®, Graves Mountain Lodge. 
Ages 18 and up. 

May 21-23: Mountain Lake Migratory 
Bird Festival, Pembroke; 

May 22-28: National Safe Boating 

May 27, 29, June 3, 5, 8: An Introduc- 
tion to Photographing Birds with 
Lynda Richardson at Lewis Ginter 
Botanical Garden, Richmond. Go to or call (804) 
262-9887, x322. 

June 4-6: Free Fishing Days. 

June 5-19: Spring squirrel season, 
certain areas. 

July 20: Flat Out Catfish I, Pony 
Pasture, James River, Richmond. 

August 13-15: Virginia Outdoor 
Sportsman Show, Richmond, 

August 20-22: Mother-Daughter 
Outdoors Weekend, Holiday Lake4-H 
Center, Appomattox. 

August 10: Flat Out Catfish II, Pony 
Pastvire, James River, Richmond. 

August 28: Jakes Event; Page Valley 
Sportsman's Club; contact Art 
Kasson at (540) 622-6103 or 
artkasson^ CH 

Congratulations Young 
Outdoor Writers 

At its spring meeting in Charlottes- 
ville, the Virginia Outdoor Writers 
Association announced winners of 
the 2009-2010 high school and colle- 
giate writing competitions. The con- 
tests are held annually to inspire and 
reward young people for writing 
about their outdoors experiences. It is 
also hoped that undergraduate win- 
ners with such aspirations will be 

linked with potential career opportu- 
nities in wildlife, conservation, and 
natural history. 

Winners of the high school competi- 
tion are as follows: 
First place: Grace Perkins, Senior, 
Lancaster High School in 

Second place: Natalie Halm, Junior, 
Mills Godwin High School in 

Third place: Owen Morgan, 
Freshman, George Wythe High 
School in Wytheville 
Fourth place: Genevieve Campag- 
nola. Senior, Lancaster High School 
in Whitestone 

Winners of the collegiate under- 
graduate competition are: 
First place: John Haworth from 
Virginia Beach; student at Virginia 

Students were recognized at the VOWA Annual Meeting March 17. Lto R: John 
Haworth, Robert Bodendorf, Bob Duncan, Executive Director of the Virginia 
Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Douglas Domenech, Virginia Secretary 
of Natural Resources, Genevieve Campagnola, Grace Perkins, and Natalie Hahn. 
Not pictured Owen Morgan. 

MAY 2010 


Second place: Robert Bodendorf 
from Orange; student at Hampden- 
Sydney College 

Look for publication of the 
first-place winning essays in future 
issues of this magazine. And from 
the staff of Virginia Wildife, congrat- 
ulations to each winner! 

The Virginia Outdoor Writers 
Association would like to thank the 
many sponsors who make these 
writing contests possible by con- 
tributing prizes and cash awards. D 

by Beth Hester 

Rescuing Wildlife: A Guide to 

Helping Injured & Orphaned 


by Peggy Sue Hentz 

2009 Stackpole Books 



"You are going about your business . . . 
and suddenly a wild, injured animal in- 
terrupts everything. The choices you 
make will have an impact on the animal's 
life, and possibly your own. Having 
knowledge of the risks to the animal, as 
well as to you, your family, and your pets, 
along with the right advice from the be- 
ginning, can mean the difference between 
an educational experience and a disaster " 
- Peggy Sue Hentz 

It happens to all of us eventually. A 
songbird mistakes a plate glass win- 
dow for a patch of sky and is stunned, 
or knocked unconscious. We hear 
strange scratching and squeaking 
noises in the attic and discover a fami- 
ly of squirrels has made it their tem- 
porary home. Perhaps a well-mean- 
ing neighbor alerts us to the fact tliat a 
truck just hit and killed the mother of 
a healthy fawn. We want to help, but 
how do we provide assistfince to the 
animal without escalating the situa- 

As a licensed wildlife rehabilita- 
tor and Director of Red Creek 
Wildlife Center, author Peggy Sue 
Hentz knows the pitfalls that often 
await the well-meaning, but under- 
informed rescuer. Wild ammals can 
carry a wide .range of diseases and 
parasites that may pose a danger. A 
frightened animal may unexpected- 
ly 'come to' and bite or scratch, and 
the would-be rescuer could very pos- 
sibly make the situation worse by 
acting on some myth about animal 
behavior. Note, for example: It is a 
myth that mothers will reject their 
babies because a human touched 

Hentz understands these dilem- 
mas, and her handy, easy-to-read 
volume gives everyday folks the 
tools they need to assess an animal 
rescue /rehabilitation situation and 
make the best possible decisions. She 
emphasizes that all states have laws 
governing the possession of some, or 
all, wildlife and that those laws are in 
place to protect both tlie animal and 
the public. She shares the role that the 
licensed wildlife rehabilitator plays 
in the grand scheme, and how the 
person who has happened upon an 
injured animal can best assist until 
more experienced help can be ob- 

Through the use of helpful flow- 
charts for both birds and mammals, 
the rescuer can evaluate situations in 
a deliberate, systematic way, and the 
information gathered can then be re- 
layed to the official rehabilitator, vet- 
erinarian, or fish and game represen- 
tative who will ultimately be respon- 
sible for the animal's welfare. 

This volume is filled with inter- 
esting, real-life tales of wildlife en- 
counters, common rescue situations, 
and examples of particular wildlife 
behaviors — like that of killdeer who 
deliberately mimic injury to distract 
predators from their eggs. There is 
also helpful information about ani- 
mal transport and proven ways to 
provide emergency care until help 
arrives. This is a valuable reference 
volume to have on hand, and it's a 
fim read to boot. D 





yv 1 f,ir~t^r^ 




I wish you woi 
like that. 


ook at me 

Walleye Tagging Study 
Needs Your Help 

The Department will be tagging 
walleyes again this spring at several 
locations across Virginia, as part of a 3- 
year study designed to learn more 
about angler catch rates and harvest. 
Tagging is plamied for Lake Brittle, 
Philpott Reservoir, Hungry Mother 
Lake, South Holston Reservoir, and 
the upper New River. 

Anglers who catch a tagged fish 
and return the tag will receive a cash 
reward of $20. The tag will be located 
near the fish's dorsal fin and can be re- 
moved by cutting through the plastic 
attachment with scissors or a knife. 
The fish can then be released or har- 
vested (minimum length limits 
apply). Simply return the tag and 
catch information to the address pro- 
vided. Postage-paid envelopes are 
available at DGIF offices and local 
tackle shops. Important data include 
your contact information and answers 
to a few questions: date, time, and gen- 
eral location of catch; was fish harvest- 
ed or released; were you fishing for 
walleyes; and, did you catch other 

The information gathered from 
this study will help biologists make 
important decisions about maiiaging 
the walleye fishery in Virginia. Every 
data point is important, so please take 
time to complete and return the tag. 
Then, collect your reward! D 




You humans have a saying, "We 
learn from our mistakes." If that 
is so, the old gentleman I live with 
must have a doctorate in education. 
One of the things he has learned is 
this: Never go looking at puppies 
with your children or significant 
other thinking all you are going to do 
is "just look." Puppies are downright 
adorable, and it is difficult not to get 
caught up in the moment and decide 
to take one home — especially if a 
man's litter (children) are clamoring 
for a new playmate. Here are some 
things to think about before you 
bring a pup home. 

How does the dog you want 
match your lifestyle? If everyone is at 
work or school most of the day, that 
situation may rule out an indoor dog, 
or prevent you from having a very ac- 
tive dog, or a dog that gets bored 
when alone for long periods of time. 
You know the kind; they think of all 
sorts of creative (read, expensive) 
ways to improve the interior design 
while alone in the house. 

If, instead, you have to keep your 
dog outside in a pen and you live in 
the suburbs, find out if your subdivi- 
sion allows pens. Provided that you 
can have a pen, it should be large 
enough for your dog to move freely 
but it does not have to be huge. Keep 
in mind, however, that some dogs 
can be great leapers and climbers. If 
the fence height around the pen is too 
low, they will be back at your side be- 
fore you can turn around. For this 
reason, it would also be a good idea 
to microchip your pet. 

Some thought needs to go into 
where on your property you put the 
pen. The Alpha female in your pack 
will have a lot to say about this, so be 
prepared to take long walks from 
your house to your dog's doghouse 
when carrying water and food to 
your dog. RuniTing a water line from 
your house to your dog's pen, though 
probably not in the budget, will save 
you a great deal of grief when water- 
ing your dog, washing your dog, and 
cleaning the dog pen. If you live in 
Virginia, you know our summers are 
hot and dry. If there is not enough 
shade to keep the dog's area cool, you 
will need to provide some type of 
protection from the sun. This can be 
easily accomplished with a tarp, 
grommets, and some bungee cords. 
However, you will have to make sure 
the tarp is sloped to allow rainwater 
to nm off its surface. 

Okay, now that you have a pen 
have you decided what kind of sur- 
face the pen will have? If you had 
thought that when you get home 
from work you and your dog will 
spend time together in the house, 
think again — if the pen has a dirt 
floor. Poor ol' Hoover will look Like a 
Yorkshire (the pig variety) after the 
first rain. An alternative is pouriiig a 
concrete pad for your dog's pen floor. 
Again, maybe not in the budget, but a 
concrete floor helps keep the dog 
cleaner and makes cleaning the pen a 
great deal easier. That water line from 
the house to the pen is making more 
sense now, isn't it? You can try to get 
by with putting down concrete dust 

or pea gravel as a flooring substitute 
but unless you place a geo-textile fab- 
ric underneath the gravel or stone, all 
tliat material will eventually either go 
into the soil or have to be replaced 
after a number of pen cleanings. 

Now that we have got the pen 
thing covered, what about the dog- 
house? If you are handy and like to 
build things, there are a number of 
house plans on the internet. Keep in 
mind that if you build your dog- 
house, plywood does not weather 
well, and once moisture attacks it, 
you will find yourself building a new 
one. A wooden doghouse should not 
set flush on the ground because 
grouiid moisture will wick through 
the floor. Also, the entrance to the 
house should be designed so that 
when it rains the droplets do not 
splatter on the ground and inside. 
Keeping the doghouse off the ground 
allows for ventilation, as well. The 
roof of the house should have hinges 
so it can be removed for easy clean- 
ing. There are also ready-made dog- 
houses of various materials available. 
The house should not be so large that 
it remains cold in the winter or so 
small that your dog will not want, or 
be able, to enter it. 

Remember that when you pur- 
chase a pup, you are acquiring some- 
thing that may be living with you for 
10-15 years. You are buying not just 
a pup, but something else . . . called 
respKVisibiliti/. D 

Keep a leg up, 

Luke is a black Labrador retriever who spends his 
spare time hunting up good stories with his best 
friend, Clarke C. Jones. You can contact Luke 
and Clarke at immv.clarkcjones.coin. 

Virginia Vepartnunt of frame and Inland Fishtriei 

^ Outdoor Rqfort 

For a free email subscription, 

visit our website at 

Click on the Outdoor Report link 

and simply fill in the 

required information. 

MAY 2010 


by Tom Guess 

Offshore with Nothing But a Compass 

Jt was one of those spring days 
when the weather was just down- 
right beautiful and I was on duty at 
Station Oregon Inlet on the Outer 
Banks of North Carolina where I was 
assigiied as the Executive Petty Offi- 
cer, or second in command of the unit. 
The ocean was flat calm and the water 
was the deepest tropical blue, giving 
me the sense that I was stationed 
much farther south — in Florida. 

Later, around 10:00 p.m., I was 
making a round to secure the station 
for the night when I received a call 
from the radio room watchstander 
telling me there was a boater lost off- 
shore in a 19-foot center console. 

Upon speaking with the vessel's 
operator over the radio and asking 
some probing questions, it became 
clear to me that he didn't have any 
navigation equipment onboard and 
had no idea where he might be. He 
explained that he had watched the 
weather forecast and, since it was 
going to be such a calm day, decided 
to go fishing alone in the Gulf Stream. 
He left Oregon Inlet early that morn- 
ing and navigated by following the 
cliarter fleet and steering a magnetic 
course of south-southeast. He 
plani-ied to return after dark by steer- 
ing a reciprocal magnetic compass 
course. He also thought returning 
after dark would make it easier for 
him to recognize lighted landmarks 
as he approached the shore. 

His destination that day, the Gulf 
Stream, is one of the world's most in- 
tensely studied current systems. It be- 
gins in the Caribbean and travels 
north at average speeds of up to 5 
miles per hour to the northern North 
Atlantic. The North Atlantic stretch 
begins upstream of Cape Hatteras, 
where the Florida Current ceases to 
follow the continental shelf. The posi- 
tion of the stream as it leaves the coast 


changes throughout the year. In the 
fall, it shifts north, while in the winter 
and early spring it shifts south (Auer 
1987; Kelly and Gille 1990; Frankig- 
noul et al. 2001, map below). 

Obviously, I needed to narrow 
down the field of possibilities. It is 
common when you have a lost boat 
operator to ask them to point out 
landmarks and, if possible, aids to 
navigation so that you can determine 
on a chart where they might be. The 
operator was within sight of land. I 
asked if he could see the light on 
Bodie (pronounced Body) Island and 
explained the flashing characteristics. 
He replied that he couldn't see any- 
thing like that. I next asked if he could 
see the Wright Memorial and de- 
scribed its characteristics. He replied 
that he couldn't. Then, I asked if he 
could see Currituck Beach Light and 
explained characteristics of its light. 
Again, no luck! He said all that he 
could see were a lot of lights and 
buildings. This led me to believe he 
was near Virginia Beach. 

Finally, I asked how he was able 
to see his compass in the dark. He told 
me that he had placed a flashlight on 
his dashboard next to it. Because of 

the magnetic influence of a flashlight 
with batteries, doing so would throw 
his compass off and make it very in- 

I knew the operator didn't calcu- 
late his drift while he was fishing in 
the Gulf Stream and only added to 
his dilemma when he used his flash- 
light to see his compass. I pulled a 
chart out of the drawer and deter- 
mined that since he was offshore for 
approximately 10 tol2 hours and 
drifting with the Gulf Stream north 
and then navigating a course on an 
inaccurate compass for approximate- 
ly 50 miles, he had ended up off of 
Rudee Inlet. 

At that point I called Coast Guard 
Station, Little Creek and asked them 
to talk him into Rudee Inlet while I 
made arrangements for family mem- 
bers to bring his truck and trailer to 
Virginia to pick him up. The moral of 
this story: It's never wise to fish that 
far offshore alone in a boat that is too 
small for the situation and without 
any electronic navigation equipment 
onboard. D 

Tom Guess, U. S. Const Guard (Ret.), senvs as a 
statewide coordinator for the Boating Safety Ed- 
ucation Program at the DGIF. 

^'V# ■•^■•♦••^••v^* »»••••».■•> 





by Ken and Maria Perrotte 

Venison Piccata 

rhis venison recipe is a home run and is commonly 
served when company visits. You'll want to use 
some of your best cuts of venison — such as a piece of 
backstrap loin or a nicely trimmed bottom round. 

This is a variation on a traditional veal recipe. 
While some of you may not have tried dishes with ca- 
pers, they nicely complement the lemon flavors of the 



V/. pounds deer backstrap or bottom round 

1 cup milk (optional) 
K to X cup flour 

K teaspoon black pepper 

X teaspoon salt 

% cup butter, divided 

2 tablespoons olive oil 

3 tablespoons lemon juice 
% cup white wine, divided 

3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped 
2 tablespoons capers 

Lemon verbena or lemon slices for garnish, 



Slice venison to about X-inch thick. If using a small 
backstrap, you can butterfly the meat to make the 
pieces larger. Soak the venison slices in milk for 30 
minutes to an hour This step isn't absolutely neces- 
sary, especially with meat from a young deer, but it 
can help mellow the taste of an older deer. Drain and 
pat the meat dry with paper towels. 

Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow 
bowl or deep plate. Over medium heat, melt X cup of 
the butter in olive oil in an extra large skillet. 

Dredge the meat in flour and brown on both 
sides. Add X cup of the wine and give the pan a gentle 
shake to make sure the meat doesn't stick. Cover, re- 
duce heat to low, and cook for a couple of minutes. 

Remove meat to a warm serving platter with a slotted 
spatula. It's okay if some of the browned flour re- 
mains in the pan. To the drippings in the pan add the 
lemon juice, parsley, capers, and the rest of the wine. If 
the sauce still seems too tliick, add a little more butter 
or wine. Stir up any brown bits on the pan bottom and 
cook for another minute or two. Remove from heat 
and stir in remauiing butter. Pour sauce over meat 
and serve immediately. Serves four with ample por- 

This pairs well with fresh steamed asparagus or 
sauteed zucchini. 

Serve with tlie same variety of wine you used in 
cooking. We prefer a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. If you 
prefer a red wine, try a lighter red grape such as a 
Pinot Noir. 

For a quick and delightful dessert to serve after 
your piccata, try these fried bananas. 

Fried Bananas 


4 bananas 

4 tablespoons butter 

4 tablespoons dark brown sugar 

4 tablespoons brandy 


Slice bananas in half crosswise; then slice each piece 
in half lengthwise. Melt butter over medium-low 
heat. Adti bananas and fry on each side until golden 
brown and soft. Reduce heat to low and stir in brown 
sugar, turning bananas into the mixture. 

Remove from heat, add brandy, stir, and return to 
heat. Cook for about another minute. Allow to cool 
slightly and then serve over vanilla ice cream. The 
brandy can be omitted if necessary, but it does add a 
nice zip to the dish. A few sprinkles of ciiinamon or a 
couple of tablespoons of pecan pieces can be added 
with the sugar. Serves four. □ 

MAY 2010 


by Lynda Richardson 

Just Say "Nor to Automatic - Part 2 

Jn last month's column I mentioned 
the tendency for folks to use the au- 
tomatic setting on their cameras way 
too often. A camera isn't creative, YOU 
are, so leam to take charge! First, pick 
your ISO. Then, decide whether the 
aperture or shutter speed settings are 
more important for what you want to 
accomplish with your photograph. 

Let's look at aperture settings. An 
aperture controls the amount of light 
coming through your camera's lens, 
but more importantly, it controls 
depth-of-field. Depth-of-field is how 
much is in focus in front of and behind 
your subject. It works in a ratio of 1 / 3rd 
in front and 2/3rds behind. Depend- 
ing on the aperture you select and the 
lens used, these distances can be in mil- 
limeters, iiiches, or even feet. 

Locate the aperture settings on 
your camera. The number one thing to 
remember is that the smaller the aper- 
ture number, such as f2.8, the less that 
will be in focus in front of and behind 
your subject. This is also known as min- 
imum depth-of-field. The higher the 
number, such as f22.0, the more will be 
in focus. This is called maximum depth- 

Now you might be thinking, "who 
cares?" Well, you would care if you re- 
alized how depth-of-field can make or 
break a photograph! For example, let's 
say you are photographing a group of 
people standing in three rows. You 
focus on the middle person in the front 
row and select f4.0 as your aperture set- 
ting. Unfortunately, at f4.0 only your 
front row will be in focus because f4.0 
has a minimum depth-of-field. If you 
select f22.0, you will have all three rows 
in focus. 

So, why wouldn't you want to 
shoot f22.0 all the time? Well, maybe 
because you don't want everything in 
focus all the time. One creative tech- 
nique used when photographing flow- 
ers is to shoot with a minimum depth- 
of-field setting of f2.8, f4.0, or f5.6. 
These settings will blur everything sur- 
rounding the subject, making it stand 
out more from the background. 

These berries were si)ot atf4. as an 
example of minimum depth-of-field. Not 
much in focus here! © Lynda Richardson 

Working with apertures will take 
practice, so don't be afraid to experi- 
ment by selecting different apertures 
for the same subject. You will eventual- 
ly want to move to full manual settings, 
but in the meantime, use the Aperture 
Priority mode. This setting will allow 
you to select a specific aperture while 
the camera automatically changes the 
shutter speed to make a good expo- 
sure. This way you will have control 
over the depth-of-field and the free- 
dom to create better photographs. 

In my next column I will discuss 
the importance of shutter speeds. Until 
then, just say "NO!" to automatic. D 

This image is an example of maximum 
depth-of-field shot atf22. 0. See how much 
more is in focus? © Lynda Richardson 

You are invited to submit one to five of 
your best photographs to "Image of the 
iVlonth," Virginia Wildlife Magazine, P.O. 
Box 11104, 4010 West Broad Street, Rich- 
mond, VA 23230-1104. Send original 
slides, super high-quality prints, or high-res 
jpeg, tiff, or raw files on a disk and include a 
self-addressed, stamped envelope or 
other shipping method for return. Also, 
please include any pertinent information 
regarding how and where you captured 
the image and what camera and settings 
you used, along with your phone number. 
We look forward to seeing and sharing 
your work with our readers. 



Congratulations go to Kimberly Harris of Stuarts Draft for her gorgeous photograph of 
lightning taken from her front yard, looking toward Mint Springs. Nikon D40x digital 
camera, ISO 100, 6 seconds, f4.0. Wow, what a shot!!! 




Ml i Butiag S^ das 




-^ ^ 



Fawn and Turtles Plush Collectibles 

From mountains to the coast, our plush collectibles will 
remind you of your favorite Virginia habitat. 
(Sizes range from 5" to 9" long) 


White-tailed Fawn 

$9.95 each 
$9.95 each 

Habitat at Home 

Check out this 2009 DVD 
that features several types of 
home habitat gardens and 
interviews with the home- 
owners who created them. 

Item #VW-254 
$12.00 each 

2009 Limited Edition 

Virginia Wildlife Collector's Knife 

Our 2009 Collector's knife has once again been cus- 
tomized by Buck Knives and features a wild turkey in 
full strut. The elegant, solid cherry box features a forest 
scene. Knives and boxes, made in USA. 

Item # VW-409 $85.00 each (plus $7.25 S&H) 

2008 Virginia Wildlife Collector's Knife 

Produced by Buck Knives, this knife features a red- 
tailed hawk engraving, augmented by a natural wood- 
grain handle and gold lettering. A distinctive, solid 
cherry box features birds of prey. 

Item #VW-408 $90.00 each (plus $7.25 S&H) 

To Order visit the Department's website at: or call (804) 367-2569. 
Please allow 3 to 4 weeks for delivery. 

Magazine subscription-related calls only 1-800-/10-9369 

Twelve issues for $12.95! 

AU other calls to (804) 367- 1 000; (804) 367- 1 278 TTY 

Visit our website at w\v\v.HuntFish 





Virginia Free Fishing Pays June 4-6, 2010. 

Call Toll Free (866) 721-6911 
WWW. HuntFish [/